Computers store three types of data including the operating system, software or programs, and saved data. Information is stored on the hard drive but crashes, viruses, spyware, malware and improper installation of new components can damage and even delete any form of stored data. Files can also be damaged or lost through accidental overwrites and deletion. Regardless of what the computer is used for, all information and files should be backed up to prevent accidental data loss.
What Computer Data Requires Backup?
Choosing the type of computer information to be backed up is an individual decision. However, all the information should not be backed up in one location in case the computer or data storage devices, such as USB thumb drives are lost are stolen. Information that should always be duplicated in case of accidental data loss includes:
- Operating systems
- Computer programs and software
- Financial information
- Personal documents
- Purchased MP3’s
- Email contacts
Before deciding not to back up items determine if the data will require referencing at a later date, if you will need to purchase a new product (such as an operating system disk) if lost, or if the information will be difficult or impossible to replace.
CD-R or CD-RW for Data Loss Prevention
Computers with writable CD and CD/DVD drives are able to copy files from the hard drive directly to disk. Copying data to disks can be done by using CD-R or CD-RW disks, and it offers a simple and inexpensive way to store data for later use in case of accidental data loss.
However there is a difference between the two types of disks, which may influence an individuals decision when making a purchase. CD-R’s are less expensive, but data can only be stored once. Replacing old information with updates requires the burning of a new disk and can cost more money in the long run – especially with individuals who update computer information frequently.
CD-RW’s are more expensive but old information can be deleted and overwritten. However, disks that become scratched disks and ones overexposed to heat and sun can become unreadable, making the stored information unrecoverable
USB Thumb Drives for Smaller Computer Data Backup
Smaller bits of information can be stored on USB thumb drives or flash drives, which are able to backup computer files and make information easily transferable between computers. However, they are too small to store software, and other large files. Using a thumb drive can be ideal for:
- Small amounts of data backup – for individuals who use the computer for email and internet
- Individuals with minimal personal files and documents
- Updating and overwriting data easily
External Hard Drives
Amounts of computer data too large to be stored on a flash drive can be backed up on an external hard drive. There are several advantages to storing data using this method, including:
- Ability to back up programs and software
- Storage of large files
- Overwriting of files
- Allows for duplication of large numbers of files
- Detaches from the computer, preventing accidental infection by viruses and malware
Computer Storage and Preventing Information Loss
Determining which computer backup system to use is based on a variety of factors, but the primary considerations are the amount of information to be saves and frequency of updates. Regardless of the system utilized, always back up data on a regular basis or when major changes are made to prevent loosing information that may be difficult or impossible to replace.